Live from the Candidate Forum for Anaheim City Council
Posted by Chris Nguyen on August 17, 2016
We are live from the Anaheim Phoenix Club for the City Council Candidate Forum sponsored by the Anaheim Republican Assembly (the Anaheim unit of the California Republican Assembly).
Uniquely for a CRA forum, non-Republican candidates are participating. (Editor’s note: 11 candidates participated, 6 Democrats and 5 Republicans.)
I estimate the audience to be nearly 100 people.
The moderator is David Florez.
District 1 Opening Statements
- Denise Barnes (R) thanks the audience and says the districts mean Councilmembers are people’s neighbors. She says neighbors are struggling and children can’t visit their grandparents or go to parks while living in motels. She says the city is rich and has great resources but needs more fire and police. She states there are too many tax giveaways. She wants to fix parking, streets, and sidewalks. She says Anaheim Hills looks 100% better. She says a strong community can improve the city.
- Mark Richard Daniels (D) says he was born in Anaheim in 1958 when the city was a small time full of farmland. He says he has lived in Anaheim his entire life. He states he will represent the people’s interests rather than special interests. He pledges to hold meetings across District 1. He says he does not have the donors, PACs, and interest groups behind other candidates and asks the audience for contributions. He pledges to work for the whole city.
- Freddy Fitzgerald Carvajal (D) says he grew up in the district, attending local schools. He says his family still lives in District 1. He says District 1’s schools, parks, and streets have been neglected for years. He says all the candidates are wonderful people who bring something special to Anaheim. He notes his degree in public administration. He points to his work with the German “Congress.” He says there are no homeless people in Germany, streets are perfect, and pools are plentiful. He wants to bring the German experience to Anaheim.
- Orlando Perez (R) says he has lived in West Anaheim for 30 years after being born and raised in Bell. He says he is not corrupt. He is the son of Cuban immigrants. He moved to Anaheim after 21 years in Bell. His top priorities are public safety, the economy, and homelessness. He wants to improve police and fire after the 2008 economic crisis. He recalls his childhood in Bell. He wants to work with business. He wants to solve homelessness. (He’s not very specific.)
- Angel VanStark (D) is 24 years old. He was homeless when he was 19. A homeless man confronted him saying there are lots of opportunities for youth then died that night. VanStark has worked in government because of his belief in public service. He worked for a city with 88,000 constituents. He pledges to make Anaheim as successful as possible.
District 3 Opening Statements
- Jose Moreno (D) opens by attacking Anaheim Blog for caricaturing him as a Communist. Moreno discusses being a plaintiff in the lawsuit that brought districts to Anaheim. He says there were previously districts anyway: the Resort District and the rest of the city. He states there is a Corporate Party and the People’s Party. He pledges to invest in the children of Anaheim rather than the children of tourists. He states there is no strategic plan for handling affordable housing for the staff of the three newly approved hotels.
- Robert Nelson (R) says districts bring Councilmembers who understand neighborhood issues. He says he is on the City Public Safety Board and the Anaheim Union High School District Bond Oversight Committee. He cites his work with veterans and his efforts helping Anaheim Police. He wants to focus on public safety, parks, streets, and myriad other things he said too quickly to catch. He says he will not cater to Disney.
District 4 Opening Statements
- Arturo Ferreras (D) speaks of his various community leadership roles. He states he would bring the community together. Over 5 years, he brought homeowners and apartment dwellers together.
- Robert Williams (D) says everyone else is part of the establishment except him. He has lived on Anaheim for 13 years after living in Fresno. He says he has seen Anaheim at its best and its worst. He wants everyone to work together for the best interests for Anaheim. He wants to bring jobs, businesses, and education back to Anaheim. He says he has no agenda or long term goals. He just wants to serve the people of all six districts. He says electing the establishment would simply repeat existing problems. He calls for new blood and new energy.
District 5 Opening Statements
- Sandra Angel (R) says she is a regular person who wants to fight Disney and ARTIC. She does not want to sell the city to Disney or Chinese investors.
- Mark Lopez (R) welcomes the audience to District 5 and thanks the organizers and attendees. He says he has been involved in the community and has spoken to residents. He says there is a growing disparity. He says there is a focus on corporations and luring jobs. He says there is a better path for economic growth. He says he wants to work on traffic, transportation, and civic upkeep. He speaks of slurry sealing and improving State College Blvd. He says Anaheim’s General Fund is barely larger than Santa Ana’s but points out Anaheim has the Angels, Ducks, Convention Center, Disneyland, and California Adventure. He says there should be greater resources, like restrooms in parks.
The moderator asks about the Anaheim street car and tax incentives.
- District 1 Candidate Denise Barnes rambles before saying it is a waste of money.
- District 1 Candidate Freddy Fitzgerald Carvajal blasts it as a waste of money and points to various other community programs it could be spent on.
- District 1 Candidate Angel VanStark pledges to be more critical and fiscally responsible to help Anaheim residents, not tourists. He wants to prioritize children and society’s most vulnerable.
The moderator asks about short term rentals (e.g. Airbnb).
- District 1 Candidate Mark Daniels says allowing short term rentals was one of the worst decisions in city history. He talked about people coming together to defeat them.
- District 5 Candidate Mark Lopez says he refused to sell his late grandparents’ condo to an investor who wanted to turn it into a short term rental. He expresses concern about neighbor safety as a result of short term renters. He says he opposes short term rentals.
- District 4 Candidate Robert Williams says he looked into the issue with an open mind and is now opposed. He says Anaheim is a small town. He will fight against short term rentals.
The moderator now asks the streetcar question again.
- District 3 Candidate Jose Moreno blasts it as a giveaway that resulted from pay-to-play ordinances. He wants to ban major City contractors and vendors from spending in city elections whether as donors or IEs? (Editor’s note: is that even constitutional?)
- District 4 Candidate Arturo Ferreras says no one uses streetcars or ARTIC. It is a waste of money, he says.
- District 5 Candidate Sandra Angel says she will not waste money on streetcars.
The moderator switches back to the short term rental question.
- District 1 Candidate Orlando Perez says short term rentals are abusive to property and neighborhoods.
- District 3 Candidate Robert Nelson says he opposes short term rentals and there was one on his street. He wants to get rid of the existing 400 short term rentals without letting them become halfway houses for drug addicts.
The moderator switches to ask simply about “street car and luxury taxes.”
- District 5 Candidate Mark Lopez asks what would a reasonable person would do. He says he opposes hotel subsidies and streetcars.
- District 1 Candidate Denise Barnes says she opposes short term rentals. She speaks about kindness and listening to the community.
- District 1 Candidate Mark Daniels says the streetcar is unnecessary because OCTA already provides world class service.
- District 5 Candidate Sandra Angel says short term rentals lose the sense of community, and people could accidentally help burglars.
- District 1 Candidate Freddy Fitzgerald Carvajal says he opposes short term rentals. He expresses conern about their impact on families.
The moderator asks about hotel luxury incentives.
- District 4 Candidate Robert Williams opposes the incentives and wants to spend the money on education and homelessness. He says homeowners and small businesses were not subsidized.
- District 1 Candidate Orlando Perez says the streetcar money should be used for something else. He wants to build better restaurants, education, and other “wise causes.”
The moderator returns to the short term rental question.
- District 4 Candidate Arturo Ferreras blasts short term rentals as harming the social fabric of neighborhoods and weakening schools.
- District 1 Candidate Angel VanStark says he is skeptical about short term rentals. He says hotels benefit on the other side. He opposes them because he saw developers took advantage of short term rentals in San Francisco.
- District 3 Candidate Jose Moreno is opposed to short term rentals. He says neighborhoods should not be hotel zones, and businesses should not be in neighborhoods. He says affordable housing is not allowed in the Resort District, so short term rentals should not be allowed in neighborhoods.
The moderator switches back to the streetcar.
- District 3 Candidate Robert Nelson calls it a waste of money.
District 5 Closing Statements
- Sandra Angel says she was raised to do the right thin when no one was looking. She wants regular people to stand up to the City Council and corporate greed.
- Mark Lopez asks if people are better off than they were 2, 4, or 6 years ago. He says the city council will make decisions that have implications for decades. He touts his endorsements by Mayor Tom Tait, Councilman James Vanderbilt, and Supervisor Shawn Nelson. He is guided by limited government and free market principles.
District 4 Closing Statements
- Arturo Ferreras asks what have people done with what they have been given. He notes his success with small things and will he very successful with larger things like the City. He speaks of his commitment to service.
- Robert Williams says a lot of opinions are the same or different. He cites public safety, new blood, new thoughts, new direction. He says people who have been involved in the community led Anaheim to where it is today and calls for new blood.
District 3 Closing Statements
- Robert Nelson thanks the audience and says he is not part of the establishment just because he is involved in the community. He says transportation funds cannot be used for education legally. He says it is important to have an understanding of the system. He says he opposes giveaways.
- Jose Moreno says District 3 has the highest density and poverty, so it has the highest need. He says he has a proven record of advocating for the community.
District 1 Closing Statements
- Angel VanStark calls for representing the interests of the people by leading with them. He calls himself a “byproduct of the community’s efforts.” He says his parents and friends are struggling. He says luck is when opportunity meets preparation, and he wants everyone to be prepared.
- Orlando Perez says he has lived in Anaheim for 30 years. He urges people to vote for someone with experience living in the community.
- Freddy Fitzgerald Carvajal says District 1 is his home, where he grew up and where his family lives. He says District 1 issues are issues for all of Anaheim. He calls for voting for people with education, experience, and love of the community.
- Mark Daniels says he has been involved in politics and in the community for 40 years. He says West Anaheim will finally have a voice for the people. He says there are candidates who are not present, yet they are well-funded and well-connected. He attacks where their support comes from.
- Denise Barnes says she viewed many Council meetings online and says they would make a great reality show. She says it is more important to vote on issues than on race. She echoes Daniels’s statements about the absent candidates. She says her money, time, family, son, and dog are invested in this election. She urges people to put up yard signs.
Anaheim Republican Assembly President Benita Gagne apologizes for the group’s inability to find every candidate’s contact info in a timely fashion.
The forum ends at 7:55.
(Editor’s note: this alternating question format is one of the worst formats I’ve ever seen. It is difficult to follow for the audience and the candidates.)